Business Artikel

Sales Eye -The Art of Execution (Oct 4th, 2004)



The Art of Execution

4th October 2004


Your team has just entered the fourth quarter, and you are way below budget.


The situation calls for drastic action. No strategy or pep talk or employee integration will work at this point. It all comes down to execution.


One of our favorite sales consultants, Robert Kopacz, recently sent us a condensed version of Larry Bossidy's acclaimed book Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done. Bossidy was one of Jack Welch's top executives at GE in the '80s and '90s, and later went on to become CEO of Honeywell. Bossidy argues that businesses succeed most often because of excellent execution rather than brilliant strategies. He argues:


"People think of execution as the tactical side of business, something leaders delegate while they focus on the perceived 'bigger issues'. This idea is completely wrong. Execution is not just tactics-it is a discipline and a system. It has to be built into the company's strategy, its goals and its culture. And the leader must be deeply engaged in it."


If you are managing a sales force, this especially applies to you. The Polish economy is humming-industrial production is up 15 percent and GNP over 5 percent. If you don't make your sales budget this year, you should be sacked!


So what to do? Leave strategy aside for now, and think execution. Here are some things you can specifically do that will bring sales now-when you need them.



Identify the top 100 prospects and assign them to your top sales reps. Choose clients who should be ordering from your company but are not. Come up with a specific plan for how to win their business. Have a member of the sales management team attend the introductory meeting with the sales rep. Many times it just takes the first order with a company to make them become a regular customer. Make them an offer they can't refuse.


Lead by example

Assign five top prospects to each of your sales managers. Make it their job to win this new business. Managers can learn a lot when they are in the field instead of sitting behind the desk telling sales reps how easy it is to sell. Managers can also gain first-hand knowledge of the problems and issues that sales people face every day. Salespeople secretly think, "If it's so easy, than why don't you do it." So go ahead and show them how easy it is, and let them learn from you.

Back to the client pool

Do a 'Top Client Review.' It's well known that the easiest pickings are your existing clients. You need to sit down with your reps and go client by client-discussing what can be done to generate more business out of them. This is a long and boring task-it may take several hours per sales rep, but it has to be done. If a typical rep has over 200 potential prospects, there is a good chance that they haven't had contact with more than half of them in the last three months. That is too long. Marketing brochures and websites don't sell, salespeople do!


Create a "new business" incentive. Create prizes for the sales reps who bring in the most new business in this fourth quarter. Measure in terms of both turnover and number of clients. Send a clear message-new clients are a priority for the firm. Let sales reps know that not only do they get rewarded for bringing in new business, but that it is a required part of their job-no exceptions.



Increase sales rep activity. Demand more calls and more meetings immediately. Meet with your sales reps every single week until the end of the year, and demand from them more client contact. Don't leave it up to them as to whom to contact. Review with them their database of clients, and together create the list of 50-100 companies that they are going to target during the next two weeks.


Help plan their day

If you just tell them to call more prospects, they won't. Together, plan their week with them, and set aside time to make prospecting calls. If you don't set time, something will always come up that will detract them from making calls-emails, price offers, coffee, etc.


Track it

Follow up and track their results. Most sales reps spend 75 percent of their time on non-revenue generating tasks, while the top performers spend only 25 percent of their time on administrative tasks. The more calls you make = the more meetings you will set-up = the more sales you will have. We repeat this a lot. Sometimes we have reps with years of experience, but they sit in the office all day and sell nothing, while a fresh new rep whose previous experience was as a waitress at the Tortilla Factory gets out there, meets everyone she can, hits her budget every month and brings in a lot of new business as well.


Get off the horse and run

Don't get us wrong. Strategy is an extremely important aspect of business, and if you are going to succeed in the long term, you will need a sound, well thought-out strategy. When companies fail, the most frequent explanation is that the strategy was wrong. But the strategy itself is usually not the cause. Strategies fail because they were executed poorly.


Great execution of a mediocre strategy will beat poor execution of a great strategy every time. Now get off your strategy high horse, and execute!


From Warsaw Business Journal by John Lynch, Matt Lynch -"The Sales Brothers"